Reed, Sir Andrew (1837–1914), inspector-general of the RIC, was born 26 September 1837 in Galway, the only son of John Reed, local land agent, and his wife Mary, daughter of John Adamson of Moate, Co. Westmeath. His mother died when Andrew was three and his father later remarried. His three sisters all died in childhood. Educated locally at a private primary school, he spent five years at Erasmus Smith's free grammar school in Galway, where he excelled. At 16 he was briefly a class monitor. Gaining a scholarship (1856) to QCG, he took several prizes, including a gold medal on graduating LLB (1859), and subsequently becoming LLD (QUI).
His initial graduation had coincided with a college visit by the outgoing lord lieutenant of Ireland, George William Frederick Howard (qv), 7th earl of Carlisle, who sponsored a public service scholarship which was awarded to Reed. His prior expectation of joining the Indian civil service was abandoned for the Irish Constabulary. On 3 August 1859 he entered the Phoenix Park depot, Dublin, as a cadet (no. 25088). By the following October he was appointed sub-inspector, and promotion came relatively swiftly thereafter. Having served in rural divisions in Co. Tipperary (North Riding), Co. Donegal, Co. Kilkenny, and Co. Kildare, distinguishing himself in the prosecution of agrarian offences (1863) and the detection of associated crime, particularly sheep-stealing, he was transferred to the powder keg of Belfast in October 1867.
In November 1868 Reed returned to the Phoenix Park depot as private secretary to RIC inspector-general Col. Sir John Stewart Wood, and from 1876 to his successor, Lt.-col. George Hillier. Meanwhile, he had continued his legal studies and in 1873 was called to the Irish bar. The task of revising the 1866 constabulary manual led to a distinguished series of police manuals, in several editions. In July 1879 he was promoted county inspector and sent to Co. Donegal, an increasingly hazardous appointment during the subsequent land war (1879–82). In June 1881 he was withdrawn to head the crime division at Dublin Castle. For Reed, this was no less difficult an appointment, at a time of renewed Fenian activity and wider nationalist extremism which had prompted renewal of emergency law in the Protection of Persons and Property Act, 1881. Certain events stood out even in the exceptionally disturbed conditions of Ireland during his appointment, in particular the Phoenix Park murders of May 1882 (prompting the consequent crimes act) and the Maamtrasna murders in Co. Mayo the following August. Reed and William Henry Joyce (qv), RIC special magistrate in Co. Mayo, subsequently investigated the latter case when there were indications that an innocent man had been hanged.
Promoted to the rank of assistant inspector-general in September 1882, Reed was sent to Athlone in October 1883 as divisional magistrate (subsequently divisional commissioner) for the Western Division, serving the counties of Clare, Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon. This region was among the most disturbed in Ireland, but Reed's success there earned him the ultimate rank of RIC inspector-general (22 September 1885) on the retirement of Col. Robert Bruce. He became the only inspector-general to have attained that position from a cadetship and without prior military service. Such facts influenced his attempts to mould the force on social rather than martial lines, but without concession on strict discipline. His written legacy prescribed the responsibilities and obligations of police duty: his Irish constable's guide and The policeman's manual appeared in several editions between the 1880s and 1913, the latter publication stressing the essentials of professional conduct, especially truthfulness, obedience, and sobriety, with sport and education among the many desirable virtues in a policeman's life. In it, he further reminded members they belonged to ‘a preventive as well as a repressive force’, and also warned against excessive zeal that risked public hostility. He published guides to liquor laws in Ireland (and their reform), probation, and reformation of criminals.
Reed's fifteen-year term of office saw a gradual transition from wielding the coercion act during the Plan of Campaign (1886–91) to the ‘constructive unionism’ of the 1890s. He was praised in the house of commons for his suppression of riots in Belfast during August–September 1886, but was criticised harshly by Sir Redvers Buller, under-secretary for Ireland in 1886–7, who regarded the RIC as slack and Reed as ineffectual. Reed clearly overcame the rebuke; he was knighted in 1889 and created KCB in 1897 and CVO in 1900.
His cautious reform of the RIC's militaristic image reflected the emollient atmosphere of the 1890s. Encouraging greater religious harmony in the force, he eagerly supported catholic members who in 1899 founded a vocational branch of the St Joseph's Young Priests Society to sponsor candidates for the priesthood. He and his wife associated themselves with many philanthropic causes and devoted much time to the Church of Ireland. Reed retired 17 August 1900, thereafter indulging his membership of the Royal St George Yacht Club, Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire), and writing an unpublished memoir (1911). After living for some time at 23 Fitzwilliam Square, he died 7 November 1914 (a year after his wife) at 5 Dartmouth Road, Rathmines, Dublin.
He married (1867) Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Hamilton Lyster of Croghan House, Birr, King's Co. (Offaly); they had a son and two daughters. In March 1900 their son, Capt. Hamilton Lyster Reed (1869–1931), Royal Field Artillery, received the VC for bravery at the Boer war battle of Colenso the previous December. Reed's brother-in-law, Harry Lyster, had received a VC in 1858. A large portrait by Walter Osborne (qv) is held by the Garda Museum and Archive, Dublin Castle.